TUMON, Guam (NNS) -- The three-member team of small-business professionals from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Marianas Office of Small Business Programs took advantage of the Guam Chamber of Commerce 14th Annual Small Business Expo & Outreach recently to give local small-business owners tips on how best to compete to do business with the Navy.
The NAVFAC Marianas small-business team led an hourlong seminar “Acquisition Cycle and Defense Contracting Opportunities” and staffed a table in the exhibition area at the six-hour event at the Hyatt Regency Guam in Tumon, recently. About 30 members of Guam’s small-business community attended the seminar and about 500 passed through the exhibition, organizers said.
“We want to get Guam small businesses to team and to match with other businesses in order to take advantage of the opportunities that are available with the Department of Defense,” said Catherine Castro, president of the Guam Chamber of Commerce. “We’re hoping that every time we put these programs together and every time we have these seminars that we get more and more people interested and able to participate.”
Such events are crucial in getting small-business information to stakeholders in the community, according to Al Sampson, NAVFAC Marianas small-business professional who, along with fellow NAVFAC Marianas small-business team members Norma Borja and Dante Serneo, helped facilitate the recent seminar. “One of the things we do is dispel the ‘urban myth’ that it’s hard to get contracts with DOD, that we just stay behind the fence,” he said. ”We get out and let people know we’re here to do business, that we’re always looking for qualified, capable small-business contractors.”
According to the USASpending.gov website, so far in fiscal year 2018 the federal government has spent $1.1 billion in Guam, which is typical - and substantial for the island economy. “That’s a lot of money for a wide range of products and services,” Sampson said. “To participate successfully in NAVFAC Marianas acquisitions, small business concerns should be aware of what the Department of Defense currently needs in Guam and how they might help meet those needs.”
The NAVFAC Marianas small-business team’s efforts appear to be working. In fiscal years 2015 and 2016, NAVFAC Marianas achieved all of its assigned small-business goals, and missed only one of its five fiscal 2017 goals by less than a percentage point. No other NAVFAC command has been as successful.
In June, the Navy announced it had awarded the NAVFAC Marianas Office of Small Business Programs its Statutory Goal Achievement Award for awarding, for the first time, more than 3 percent of total contract awards to businesses in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. The 3 percent goal is set by law for the entire federal government. In fiscal 2017, NAVFAC Marianas awarded 4.4 percent of a total $215.2 million in eligible contracts to businesses in the disabled Veterans small business program.
“The service-disabled Veterans category is an area where we always had trouble,” Sampson said. “In 2007, we were at 0.05 percent of service-disabled awards. So we focused on it like we do with any area where we’ve been struggling.”
Other small-business categories in which contracts are awarded, and goals set, include the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), Small Disadvantaged Business, Small Business and Women Owned categories. In 2017, NAVFAC Marianas awarded 4.78 percent of its small business contracts in the women-owned business category, missing its goal of 5.5 percent by only 0.72 percent.
“Our focus now is women-owned businesses,” Sampson said. “We’re going to see how we can get women to bid successfully on our contracts.”
Events such as the small business expo are particularly important in Guam, where unlike other command locations, Guam does not have a broad base of contractors and vendors. And it’s somewhat remote location with time zone differences, the length of time required for travel and shipping, as well as the cost of setting up and maintaining an office are obstacles for many small-business concerns, Sampson said.
Despite the challenges, the NAVFAC Marianas small business professionals plan to continue working as a team with others throughout the command. “It’s not just one person or one office; it’s the NAVFAC Marianas team,” Sampson said. “The command leadership is very supportive. Norma, Dante, our acquisition people, the integrated product team, FEAD, the planners, 36th Contacting Squadron, our capital improvement folks - we all work together in order to be successful.”
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